Enterasys Networks Inc.'s footprints are all over the cloud. The networking technology vendor began using Salesforce.com's customer relationship management applications in 2003; now it has more than 20 cloud apps in use. The only major business applications that don't run in the cloud are its SAP-based supply chain management and financial systems, said Benjamin Doyle, vice president of sales enablement and analytics at Enterasys.
The application lineup includes a cloud collaboration and content management system built on tools from Box, which offers an alternative to Microsoft's SharePoint software. Doyle said Enterasys "tried for years" to use SharePoint in sales but had trouble supporting mobile devices and offline access. The Salem, N.H., company switched to Box's technology two years ago and deployed it enterprise-wide after other employees began signing up for personal Box accounts so they could share information with sales workers. "It spread very virally," he said.
The cloud collaboration tools support internal and external information sharing and provide a document repository plus storage for personal files and shared folders. They don’t come cheap: Doyle indicated that the annual fee runs into six figures. But he said Enterasys is saving almost $200,000 a year on no-longer-needed file servers, more than offsetting the Box tab. In addition, workers can access the system from anywhere on mobile devices. And Box provides security and usage monitoring tools that alleviate any concerns about data loss. As Doyle said, "I have far more visibility into what's happening in our applications than I ever did in the past."
Enterasys isn't alone in embracing cloud-based collaboration and content management -- other prominent Box users include Procter & Gamble, Stanford University and insurer Nationwide. More vendors are getting their cloud stories in order, too. Microsoft's new SharePoint 2013 release offers more parity on functionality between its on-premises and online versions, said Shawn Shell, an analyst at Hitachi Consulting. EMC Corp. announced a "cloud-ready" version of its Documentum content management software late last year and said in May that it's developing Documentum-based public cloud services for the energy and life sciences industries.
Content management and collaboration in the cloud still has a long way to go before it reaches the mainstream. In an August 2012 survey of Association for Information and Image Management members, only 28% of 263 respondents said their organizations were using cloud collaboration tools in corporate offices; the percentage was even lower for collaborating with remote offices, customers and business partners. And in another AIIM survey earlier this year, 46% of 362 respondents said they were unlikely to deploy any cloud-based content.
There's no rush to the cloud under way, said Doug Miles, AIIM's director of market intelligence. But, he added, IT, collaboration and content managers "can feel the pressure of inevitability."